Conquest Big E Upsets Always Dreaming In Hardacre Mile

Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming was the 8-5 favorite in his 4-year-old debut, but Daniel Hurtack’s Conquest Big E had other plans for Saturday’s Grade 2 Hardacre Mile at Gulfstream Park. A 5-year-old son of Tapit, Conquest Big E went straight to the lead at odds of 12-1, continuing on to best Always Dreaming by several lengths at the wire. Trained by Donna Hurtack and ridden by Jose Bautista, the gelding completed the one-turn mile in 1:35.52.

“He’s been having a little bit of a bad habit of hopping out of the gate, and it’s costing him a good position which has cost him in the other two stakes races that he ran in,” South Florida-based Hurtak said after celebrating her first graded-stakes victory. “We did a little gate work with him, trying to get him out of the habit, and it’s great when you’re a trainer and things work, because it’s not easy to get them out of bad habits. I’m very proud of him today.”

Always Dreaming was a little bit slow out of the starting gate, and Conquest Big E, to his inside, immediately took up position at the front of the six-horse field. Through fractions of :23.57 and :45.88, Conquest Big E was within a length of Always Dreaming, Mr. Jordan and Irish War Cry.

Rounding the far turn, Conquest Big E burst away from his rivals to straighten for home with a three-length lead. Always Dreaming ran on well but could not threaten the winner, finishing second, just ahead of stablemate Tommy Macho. Page McKenney finished fourth.

“I thought he ran well first time off a layoff. Gulfstream can be a tricky track when a horse gets loose like that. We got the trip we were hoping for. We got a nice clean trip.” trainer Todd Pletcher said of Always Dreaming. “I thought he fell into a good rhythm and ran steadily. The horse on the lead never came back.

“It was a positive effort. A mile is a tough distance to start off a layoff. We gave a way a lot of recency to pretty much the whole field,” he added. “I know the horse that won had a couple troubled trips here. He was a horse I was concerned about shaking loose. The main focus for us was to get a positive start.”

Irish War Cry appeared to be eased in the stretch.

Bred in Kentucky by Gainesway Thoroughbreds, Conquest Big E was a $700,000 yearling at the Keeneland September sale. Re-sold during the dispersal of Conquest Stables at the 2016 Keeneland November sale, the gelding brought $110,000 from Tommy Roberts. He made two starts in the care of Brian Lynch, then was transferred to Hurtack’s care. Two starts later, Conquest Big E won an allowance race, then a listed stakes at Gulfstream in the summer. He returned to graded stakes company afterward, but the Hardacre Mile is his first graded victory. Overall, Conquest Big E boasts a record of 5-2-1 from 20 starts, with earnings of $380,000.

The post Conquest Big E Upsets Always Dreaming In Hardacre Mile appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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